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Steelers Need Joey Porter Jr. to Take Another Step in 2024

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Pittsburgh Steelers CB Joey Porter Jr.

When the Steelers drafted Joey Porter Jr. with the first pick in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft, they expected to get a solid player but probably did not expect him to have as strong of a first year that he did. While that is only a benefit, the Steelers need him to play even better in 2024.

One big step in doing that is for Porter to clean up on his penalties. Porter finished tied for sixth in the league last year for the most penalty flags thrown at a player. With 12 total penalties, Porter was tied for second among all defensive backs, and tied for the lead among NFL rookies.

Porter earned four fouls for defensive pass interference, three for defensive holding, two for offsides, two for face masks and one for illegal use of the hands.

The high penalty rate is something that Porter is not worried about and believes that he was flagged due to outside circumstances more than what he was doing on each play.

“I feel like some of the penalties last year were just based on what was going on around the league,” Porter told reporters at the team’s minicamp in June. “Once you make a name for yourself, they’re gonna get you on ticky-tack calls. I really try not to let that affect my game. So, I don’t try to stress on it too much. I work on it here and there, but to me it was just nothing to heavily work on.”

One person that can get Porter to that next level is defensive backs coach Grady Brown. Throughout this offseason, Porter and Brown have been working on perfecting the things that Porter is good at, like his elite positioning, and refining the things that he struggled with, like his untimely grabbing or pushing.

“He just stays on me every day and we try to find something new every day to work on,” Porter said. “We don’t just work on stuff I’m good at, we work on stuff I need to improve on. He’s really good at showing me what I need to improve on and we go out and try to execute it.”

Another thing that Porter is working on, outside of his work with Brown, is growing as a leader in the cornerback room. While he is only entering his second season, the 22 year old sees himself as a guy that the rookies can rely on.

“Really trying to grow as a leader in my room,” Porter said. “We don’t have a lot of old guys that played corner besides D-Jack [Donte Jackson] and Cam Sutton that just came in so really just try to be a mentor for the younger guys and show them how to come in and make plays early.”

From the time he started logging starts at the outside cornerback position in 2023, it did not take long for Porter to start shadowing the opposing team’s top receiver. It is a tall task for any corner to shadow the game’s best receivers but for a rookie to do it tells the tell about Porter’s play. Shadowing receivers is something that Porters plans to do this year as well.

“I’m still trying to follow,” Porter said. “We’re going to talk about it. I think that’s the case. I really don’t know, but that’s my intention.”

The first guy on the list of top receivers that Porter will face in 2024 is his teammate George Pickens when the team arrives in Latrobe later in July. Pickens made Porter the subject to one viral video last training camp and now Porter looks to get his revenge this year.

“We are gunning for each other everyday that we get a chance to,” Porter said about his intense reps against Pickens. “I am looking forward to training camp, I know it is going to be spicy so I am ready for it.”

Porter is the Steelers top cornerback heading into 2024 and with guys like Patrick Peterson and Levi Wallace no longer around, he will need to be “the guy” for the team at that position.

24 • Joey Porter Jr., Cornerback, Penn State
6-foot-2, 193 pounds, 23 years old, 2nd Season

Acquired: The Steelers drafted Porter with the 32nd overall pick in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft. The Steelers received the pick from the Chicago Bears in exchange for Chase Claypool.

While pick No. 32 is usually the last pick of the first round, the Miami Dolphins forfeited their first-round pick due to tampering violations which made the first round only have 31 picks in 2023.

Last SeasonAs a rookie, Joey Porter Jr. played an extremely high clip and probably even exceeded the organizations hopes. Porter started 11 of his 17 appearances in the regular season. By the middle of the season, Porter was shadowing the opposing team’s top wide receiver, and was shutting a majority of them down. Per Pro Football Reference, Porter allowed a completion percentage while targeted of just 47.6%.

His top moment of the season came in Week 5 against the Baltimore Ravens when he caught the game-sealing interception in the end zone. On the play, Porter was matched up against Odell Beckham Jr.

In total, as a rookie, Porter combined for 43 tackles, 10 defended passes and one interception.

Steelers CB Joey Porter Jr.

Steelers cornerback Joey Porter Jr. intercepts Lamar Jackson against the Ravens Oct. 8, 2023 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Year GP GS Tackles INTs PBUs
2023 17 11 43 1 10

CollegeAfter his senior season at North Allegheny High School, Porter decided to stay close to home and committed to Penn State University. As a true freshman in 2019, Porter appeared in just four games which allowed him to keep his redshirt. In those four contests, Porter made three tackles and defended one pass.

Porter started eight games in 2020 as he racked up 33 tackles and four passes defended. Porter tallied a season-high six tackles in a game against Rutgers in 2020. Following the season, Porter was named third-team All-Big Ten by the media and honorable mention All-Big Ten by the league’s coaches.

In 2021, Porter made 13 starts at cornerback for the Nittany Lions and had the best overall season of his collegiate career. He logged 51 total tackles, five passes defended, one forced fumble, and his first collegiate interception. His first interception came in a game against Indiana during the 2021 season. After the season, Porter earned third-team All-Big Ten honors by the league’s coaches and honorable mention All-Big Ten by the media.

As a redshirt senior in 2022, Porter started 10 games at cornerback for Penn State. In his 10 starts, he logged 27 tackles, 11 pass breakups, and a fumble recovery. He finished third in the Big Ten and 32nd nationally with his 11 pass breakups. Following the season, Porter was named second-team All-American and first-team All-Big Ten. Additionally, Porter won the team’s Most Valuable Defensive Player.

In total at Penn State, Porter appeared in 35 contests and recorded 31 of those matchups. He tallied 114 tackles, one interception, 21 passes defended, and one forced fumble. Additionally, Porter set the Penn State record and tied the Big Ten record for most passes broken up in a single game with six against Purdue.

Year GP TKLs INTs PDs FFs
2019 4 3 0 1 0
2020 8 33 0 4 0
2021 13 51 1 5 1
2022 10 27 0 11 0

Salary cap and future: Porter’s full deal is worth $9.618 million over four seasons, with his entire bonus paid at signing and 70% of his fourth-year salary guaranteed. Porter will cost $2.185 million against the Steelers 2024 cap space. Of that $2.185 million cap hit, $1.187 million of it is in base salary. Porter is signed with the team through the end of the 2026 season.

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